Capture significant people details quickly and effectively for undertanding and engagement design

About the canvas

The Stakeholder Group Profile Canvas is a tool to use in organisational change management. It can be populated by experienced and novice change practitioners. It is designed to be read (or consumed) by those with responsibility for planning and designing engagement activity for a particular group of stakeholders.

The canvas is a way to present visually on a single page, a coherent concept of multiple inter-related parts – in this case the profile of a stakeholder group.

IMPT: A key assumption about this canvas is that people using it bring an empathetic and human-centred orientation to the collection and capture of information. 

Questo has created templates Stakeholder Group Profile Canvas: for printing (PDF) and digital-fillable (PDF). These are available for use under a Creative Commons licence with stated conditions. The sections of the canvas can also be simply redrawn on a whiteboard or large sheets of paper, for population by a group in an exploratory session.

The Canvas performs a number of functions:

  • Simple yet coherent documentation of the understanding about a group of people
  • Tool for conversation and exploration with sponsors and collaborators about the depth of understanding that exists about a group of people
  • Mobility of knowledge for all collaborators across time and space to draw upon a common understanding

The Stakeholder Group Profile Canvas has 15 dimensions that are explained below.

As an alternative or a supplement, these same dimensions could be columns in a spreadsheet with information captured in rows per stakeholder group.


Group Profile Dimensions

Note: The Canvas is not meant to capture every detail about your Stakeholder Group. Aim for a macro view of essential details that will be useful to inform engagement design. 

GROUP: The name of the group – preferably as they would designate themselves. This may be a vertical or horizontal grouping within an organisation.

CHARACTERISTICS: Key details about what defines ‘membership’ to this group. Preferably in language the group would use about themselves.

ORGANISATIONAL CONTEXT: Key details about where this group fits in the organisational eco-system socially, functionally and even geographically.

GROUP LEADER: A formal or informal leader (or leaders) of this group. The person you would contact and collaborate with in order to share with or seek information from this group.

CHANNELS: The functional and social channels by which information flows to and from this group. The perspective is the channels they prefer, value and give their attention to – not the channels you would want to use!

INFLUENCERS: The things that influence this group – key ideas, actions and conditions as well as people.

SUCCESS DEFINITION: A statement about what success would look like when this group has adapted to the target change.

ABO TARGET: Drawing on the ABO model (PDF), the target level of engagement sought for this group. (i.e. Awareness, Buy-In, Ownership).

CHANGE IMPACT  – AREAS: A list of the most significant areas of this group’s existance that will be impacted by making the desired change.

CHANGE IMPACT – DEGREE OF IMPACT: A rating for each of the areas about the degree of impact, where 0 is no impact and 5 is extensive impact. Where possible capture the group’s perspective on the degree of impact.

GAINS FROM THE CHANGE:  The gains, benefits or advantages that the group might anticipate from the process of changing as well as achieving the desired change.

PAINS FROM THE CHANGE: The pains and inconveniences the group might be anticipating from the process of changing as well as achieving the desired change.

NB: Gains and Pains information might be gathered in doing the Empathy Map exercise for the group.

A%: A percentage that represents the portion of success that is dependent on this group adopting/adapting to the desired change.

INFLUENCE-INTEREST MATRIX: An analysis of where this group sits in an Influence-Interest Matrix. Add a date next to your rating, as this may change over time. Don’t assume its a single rating for all time. (NB: Some matrices replace ‘influence’ with ‘power’. We prefer the ‘influence’ perspective to indicate the informal and situational aspects of ‘power’ – whereas power is often associated with authority.)

SWOT ANALYSIS: An analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats as perceived by the group in terms of the proposition or idea of this change.


Populating the Canvas

There is no fixed process about how to populate the canvas. Start anywhere that makes sense to you or your collaborators, and collate your thoughts as you gain insight and understanding for the group on which you are focusing.

It is expected that you will NOT be able to complete the canvas in a single sitting.

It is expected that you are in conversation with the group as you gain understanding about the contents you will capture. You should not make assumptions, you should ask those involved as much as possible for the information you capture – and be sure to capture in their words.

The canvas contains a collection of explicit knowledge but it will not be the totality of knowledge that is held in the minds (and bodies) i.e. tacit knowledge, of those who have contributed to populating it, or those who are consuming it. Keep this aspect of knowledge creation and sharing in mind when populating and using the canvas.

It is best if there is a single canvas per stakeholder group at any stage of exploration. Though there is value in an exercise for multiple different practitioners having a go at populating a canvas for a single group based on their knowledge. It’s a great way to check assumptions and reveal potential bias. It can be an ‘expectation purge’ activity, done before exploring with a group to be transparent about what you already know and assume. If your exploration with a group does not reveal anything new to what you ‘purged’ then its valid to ask if you were paying enough attention or are holding onto biases.

You might redo a group’s profile at different stages of a change process to check what dynamics and conditions have shifted or emerged. It would be rare for a group’s profile to remain entirely static.


Using the Canvas

There is no fixed process about how to use the canvas. The canvas is expected to be a valuable input to any conversation or activity for designing engagement for that group. (See Engagement Activity Canvas.)


But wait there’s more …

There are many things on the Questo website that can be helpful to Change Management practitioners. Check out Resources and Articles.


Intentional Acts of Appreciation

If you have got value from this free-yet-priceless resource, your appreciation is very welcome. Tell us about how it went when you used it, and subsidise Helen’s coffee pleasure to help fuel her creation process.

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Creative Commons License

This work by Questo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.